November 5, 2013 at 7:17 AM
UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: Washington voters Tuesday were rejecting a measure that would have made the state the first in the nation to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
With all but one county in Eastern Washington reporting, the measure trailed 45 percent to 55 percent — a margin that appeared impossible to overcome.
“It does not look good for us,” conceded Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, a labeling supporter. “But we’ve won the hearts and the minds of the people.”
The measure was leading in only four counties — King, Whatcom, Jefferson and San Juan — but not by enough to counter the heavy “No” vote in other parts of the state.
But pro-Initiative 522 campaign manager Delana Jones was not ready to concede Tuesday evening, pointing out that many ballots remained uncounted. “It’s too close to call,” she said. “It’s going to be a long few days as we continue to count ballots.”
The initiative’s biggest financial backer, CEO David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, said the battle to require labeling nationwide will continue.
“Win or lose, this is a long war,” he said. “Labeling is inevitable.”
State Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee and a co-chair of the ”Yes” campaign, says an upside of the vote is that now 90 percent of Washington residents know what genetically engineered foods are. “The movement continues,” he said.
Initiative opponents had no initial reaction to the vote.
UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Voters on Tuesday were rejecting an initiative that would label genetically engineered food.
With all but one county – Stevens — reporting their vote counts Tuesday night, I-522 trailed 45 percent to 55 percent .
The initiative led only in King, Whatcom, Jefferson and San Juan counties.
UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: With 20 counties reporting– including King, Pierce, Spokane and Thurston — the initiative that would label genetically engineered food was trailing 47 percent to 53 percent. More results are coming.
ORIGINAL POST: Washington voters will decide today whether to require labeling of genetically engineered food.
The measure would take effect July 1, 2015, and require labels on the front of food packaging. Genetically engineered produce and meat from GE animals and fish would also be labeled as such.
Passage of the initiative would make Washington the first state to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. Maine and Connecticut recently passed labeling laws, but they won’t go into effect until neighboring states opt in as well.
Nearly 50 other nations already require genetically engineered ingredients be disclosed on food labels.
The initiative campaign put Washington at center stage in debates over both genetic engineering and the role of out-of-state funding in elections.
With $22 million in donations, the “No” campaign set a record for fundraising by one side in an initiative battle in Washington. Only $550 came from Washington residents. The biggest donors were the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and agribusinesses including Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Bayer CropScience.
Almost 70 percent of the funding for the “Yes” campaign also came from out-of-state businesses and organizations, led by California-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. But supporters also included about 10,000 individuals, many of them Washington residents, who gave amounts ranging from $20,000 to $2.
October 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM
First, it smashed the record for fundraising by a campaign opposing a statewide ballot measure.
Now, No on 522 holds the title for most money raised by any initiative campaign in Washington state history, period.
Bankrolled by out-of-state biochemical corporations and food industry heavyweights, the campaign trying to defeat GMO labeling Initiative 522 on Saturday broke the $21 million mark in total contributions, the latest campaign reports to Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) show.
In the process, the No camp surpassed Washington’s previous high mark of money raised by any initiative campaign. The old record — set in 2011 by Costco-backed supporters of the liquor-privatizing Initiative 1183 — was $20.1 million.
The No on 522 campaign reached record ground fueled by last week’s contributions of $3.8 million from the food-industry PAC the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and $460,000 from biochemical giant Dupont Pioneer.
With $11 million in cash contributions so far, the GMA remains the No campaign’s top donor. The food-industry group — financed by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, NestleUSA and Conagra Foods among others — only revealed its own funders this month after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued it for campaign disclosure violations.
Other top donors to the No campaign include Monsanto ($4.8 million), DuPont Pioneer ($3.9 million), Bayer Cropscience and Dow Agrosciences ($592,000 each).
October 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Initiative 522 – the statewide ballot measure to require labeling of genetically engineered foods – is clinging to a slight lead heading into the final two weeks before Election Day.
But momentum has clearly shifted against the measure, thanks to a barrage of opposition advertisements over the last month.
Or so says Seattle pollster Stuart Elway, whose latest poll on the Washington initiative has I-522 winning 46 to 42 percent, with still 12 percent of voters undecided.
“If you were calling it today, you’d say it’s still going to pass,” Elway said Monday. “But the momentum shift — how’s that going to play out? And, it’s still within the margin of error.”
I-522’s four-point advantage falls within the poll’s margin of error of 5 percent, meaning the race is too close to call.
Campaign officials on either side of the measure touted Elway’s latest polling.
October 18, 2013 at 8:14 AM
Washington state’s attorney general says a food industry group has agreed to disclose who contributed to an effort to oppose a food labeling initiative.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday the agreement avoids the need to seek court intervention. Earlier this week, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, saying the group violated state campaign finance laws for how it collected and spent more than $7 million.
The association and other parts of the food industry have been working to defeat Initiative 522, which would require labeling on genetically modified foods.
Ferguson said the association improperly established a special account that was used to collect money from the industry while shielding contributors from scrutiny.
He says the group has now agreed to file donor reports with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission by the close of business Friday, and will register as a political committee.
October 16, 2013 at 2:21 PM
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit today against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, alleging the group illegally collected and spent more than $7 million to oppose Initiative 522, the measure requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.
Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, said the Washington D.C.-based trade association solicited big money from its members specifically for the anti-GMO-labeling campaign, yet illegally concealed the identity of those donors from the public by failing to register and file reports as a political committee.
“In our view it’s a clear violation. It’s an important violation,” Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle.
Ferguson said unless the GMA immediately discloses its donors, his office will ask a judge for a temporary restraining order to force the grocery association to register as a political committee and reveal its donors so that voters will have the information as they cast their ballots for or against I-522. He added the state will seek civil penalties and attorney’s fees from the group.
October 4, 2013 at 6:22 PM
A Thurston County judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed against the No on I-522 campaign and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and slapped the plaintiffs who’d brought the case with a fine.
Initiative 522, which is on the November ballot, would require the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients. Opponents of the measure have raised more than $17.2 million, the most ever raised to defeat an initiative in the state.
Last month, a group of I-522 supporters called Moms for Labeling, filed a lawsuit alleging the initiative opponents were illegally failing to disclose who was funding the ‘No’ campaign. The lawsuit said the grocery association was acting as a political committee to solicit and “launder” money from big-business interests whose identities were being illegally concealed from voters.
But that lawsuit was tossed today by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wickham, who ruled the lawsuit was filed prematurely without abiding by a mandatory 45-day waiting period for such claims.
The judge also fined the plaintiffs $10,000 and ordered them to pay the defendants’ attorneys fees under an anti-SLAPP law originally meant to shield citizens from harassing corporate lawsuits.
October 1, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Foes of Initiative 522 – the ballot measure seeking to require labels on genetically engineered foods — still have more than a month to go before they’ll know whether their anti-labeling arguments will prevail at the ballot box.
But already, they’ve won top honors in at least one Washington election category: Raising money against a statewide initiative.
As of late Monday, the No on 522 Committee’s funding totals surged to $17.2 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.
The new total has shattered the state record for most money raised in opposing a statewide ballot measure, PDC figures show. The previous record was set in 2011 by opponents of the liquor sales privatization Initiative 1183.
The more than $20 million raised by the 2011 campaign supporting the measure to privatize liquor sales, funded largely by Costco and other retailers, still tops the PDC’s list for total money raised by any statewide initiative campaign (for or against).
Meantime, the Yes on I-522 Committee received another $500,000 donation from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the latest reports show. That brings the pro-labeling side’s funding totals to $4.8 million.
When combining totals for both campaigns, the $21.9 million in contributions raised so far in the I-522 race has surged into second place all-time in Washington for collective money raised in a ballot measure campaign.
Initiative 522 would require food producers to disclose on the front of food packages whether some foods were produced using genetically engineered ingredients.
Largely bankrolled by five out-of-state corporations and a trade group, the No campaign’s fundraising totals jumped this week behind a single $5 million contribution from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The GMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group for the food industry, is now the single biggest contributor to the No campaign, collectively donating $7.2 million to date. Biochemical companies Monsanto and Dupont Pioneer also have donated $4.8 million and $3.2 million respectively, records show.
Dr. Bronner’s, the California-based soap company, is the pro-labeling campaign’s largest donor, in all giving about $2 million to the Yes camp so far.
Here’s a look at how I-522 fundraising stacks up all-time:
Most money raised opposing a statewide ballot measure
1. $17,168,234: Initiative 522 on labeling genetically engineered foods, 2013*
2. $12,351,656: Initiative 1183 on privatizing liquor sales, 2011
3. $11,567,117: Referendum 67 on insurance reform, 2007
4. $6,612,582: Initiative 892 on expanding nontribal gambling, 2004
5. $6,465,664: Initiative 330 on health-care liability reform, 2005
Most money raised in a statewide ballot-measure campaign by both sides
1. $32,466,982: Initiative 1183 on privatizing liquor sales, 2011
2. $21,855,003: Initiative 522 on labeling genetically engineered foods, 2013*
3. $17,759,849: Referendum 74 on same- sex marriage, 2012
4. $16,469,457: Initiative 1107 on ending sales tax on candy and soda, 2010
5. $15,978,861: Initiative 330 on health-care liability reform, 2005
*Through Sept. 30, 2013
Public Disclosure Commission
September 16, 2013 at 11:04 AM
The first television ads have aired in the battle over a statewide initiative that would mandate the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Opponents and supporters of Initiative 522 rolled out TV spots Monday morning in campaigns that are expected to cost millions of dollars.
The Yes on 522 campaign has raised $3.4 million with the largest donation from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Opponents have raised $12.1 million with large checks from Monsanto and DuPoint Pioneer.
The initiative before voters November would require food and seeds produced entirely or partly through genetic engineering and sold in Washington state to be labeled as such.
Supporters say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they are buying. Opponents say the measure provides misinformation and is going to increase grocery costs.
September 12, 2013 at 6:06 PM
By Times staff reporter Melissa Allison
Days after Monsanto paid $4.6 million to oppose the labeling of genetically engineered food in Washington, fellow agribusiness DuPont Pioneer contributed $3.2 million, it reported Tuesday.
The campaign against Initiative 522, which would require labeling of GMOs at retail, has raised $11.1 million.
The campaign for I-522 has raised $3.5 million.
A similar measure lost last year in California, where labeling opponents spent $44 million, compared with $9 million spent by labeling supporters.
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